- Thinking about the poor efforts put forth by the WWE Creative Team as of late has got me thinking of other times in recent history that such a bumbling mess was made out of one of their Pay-Per-View productions. You see, as much as I can complain, or anyone else can complain for that matter, about how terribly the 2013 Survivor Series was and how lazy the writing team was in putting together an entire card with less than a week to go, it comes nowhere close to the absolute worst, bare minimum effort I have ever seen.
Let's take a trip back to 2005. Following the success of a WWE produced DVD documenting the rise and fall of ECW, there were plans to build an entire PPV around the defunct promotion, with the former stars all present in one of ECW's old stomping grounds, the Hammerstein Ballroom, in New York City, NY. The show was another success and was a fresh presentation from the stale product that the WWE had become. Such a success, a second event was put into the works for 2006... and then it happened. Someone had the bright idea to put a one-hour, weekly program on the Sci-Fi (yes, SCI-FI, not SYFY) Network, centered on the WWE's newest brand: ECW. Yes, ECW was coming back, and this time it was going to be done right. According to the WWE's publicists.
The 2006 One Night Stand was another success, although not quite so much as the year before. While ONS 2005 felt like an ECW show (generally speaking), this one had a bit more WWE flavor to it. It was Main Event'ed by John Cena, and featured non-ECW names like Kurt Angle, Randy Orton, and Edge in prominent roles. To be fair, Kurt Angle was just shuffled into the "new" ECW brand, a roster pick by Paul Heyman to help bulk out the roster. He, along with NEW WWE (and ECW) Champion Rob Van Dam, were to be the cornerstones of the new show.
Things started out fine. Yes, there was the Zombie, Macho Libre, and Big Dick Johnson, but all three were used as satire for The Sandman to abuse with his trusty singapore cane. ECW names such as Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, The FBI, Balls Mahoney, Justin Credible, Roadkill, and Danny Doring, among others, were brought in to give the ECW brand the names fans would be familiar with. New stars like CM Punk, Kevin Thorn, Mike Knox and Kelly Kelly were brought up and given plenty of time to blossom under the new environment. Unfortunately, it wasn't long until things took a dramatic turn. First, The Big Show was another "big name" moved over to add roster depth. Sorry, I'm sure he's a great guy, but he was TERRIBLE in the ring at this point, and instantly won the ECW Title from RVD thanks to a double-cross from Paul Heyman (rumors of RVD and his love of smoking weed is the main reason he dropped both titles in 24 hours). Then, all matches were treated with normal rules, with the OCCASIONAL "Extreme Rules" being used. Eventually, even those stopped. During the Summer, Big Show defended the title on consecutive weeks against Ric Flair, Kane, and the Undertaker. Once, at a special episode from the Hammerstein Ballroom, he defended against the Batista. They were promptly boo'ed out of the building by the true ECW fanbase.
Despite the smell of WWE taking over, there was still promise: A crop of young, underused talent, and a show that offered a different presentation than the run of the mill WWE shows. Finally, an ECW EXCLUSIVE PPV was scheduled for December 3rd, 2006: December to Dismember, a name lifted from an ECW show back in 1995. There was at least two months of time to build to the PPV, and ECW on Sci-Fi featured plenty of small storylines to fill out the card. What we got was an abomination, a slap in the face to every fan who gave them a chance: With one week to go, only the Main Event was announced, and then a second match featuring two tag teams THAT WEREN'T EVEN ON THE ECW ROSTER, was added. That's it. The rest of the card was left a mystery to anyone willing to drop $39.95 on a PPV with only two matches announced. Let's see what we're going to step into before we continue to dog pile this piece of sh*t card...
- Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View on December 3rd, 2006, from the James Brown Arena in Augusta, GA. Sounds very ECW, doesn't it? Screw New York and Philadelphia, the real home of ECW is in Atlanta Brave territory. Don't you remember watching Hardcore Television on TBS SuperStation? Official theme of ECW is Drowning Pool's "Bodies." Yes, the annoying song from 2001. So annoying I still like it.... don't you judge me!
- Dig that WWE production video montage and the shower of fireworks and pyro. ECW's budget couldn't pay the talent, let alone showing off with a 30-second pyro showcase. Sorry, I promise I won't keep breaking away with new points with every little thing that agitates me.
Mercury and Matt Hardy start, trading headlocks and counters until both teams come to a stand-off. Matt takes control with an armbar and works it over. Frequent tags from the HardyZ, working on the left arm. Nitro tags in, walks into a hip toss, and gets his arm worked over, too. Hardyz with a double elbow on Nitro, following by a wheel-barrel slam on Mercury. Nitro counters a jawbuster with a knee lift, and stomps Jeff down. MNM with a double elbow for a two count. Wow, I do NOT miss Melina's high-pitch squeals. Nitro with a neck breaker, but a standing star press misses. Matt back in with rights and elbows. He meets an elbow on a charge, but prevents Nitro's climb to the top and brings him down with a sit-out Powerbomb for a two count. Melina hooks the ankle to break things up, leading Matt into a sneak attack from Mercury. Double stomach-buster, straight out of the Bushwhackers playbook, from MNM. Nitro charges in with a knee to the midsection for two. Melina adds a head scissors behind the back of the referee, only to mildly pop the perverts in the crowd. Double-team face buster gets two. Matt counters a double-suplex with a snapmare. MNM cut-off the hot tag and hit their own version of Poetry in Motion. Mercury goes for the Twist of Fate, but Jeff shoves him into the corner, crotching Nitro on the top turnbuckle.
Jeff gets the hot tag, and unloads with rights and clotheslines. Inverted atomic drop and leg drop between the legs of Mercury for two. Front suplex on Nitro. Matt sends Mercury to the floor with a clothesline, and follows with a plancha. Nitro with a no-hands suicide dive onto them, and Jeff finishes the sequence with a dive from the top rope. I'll give the award for best spot to Nitro. Jeff with Poetry in Motion on Mercury. Matt with the Twist of Fate, but Nitro pulls Mercury out of the way of the Swanton Bomb. Nitro with a springboard missile dropkick to take control, making Jeff our second act face-in-peril. Mercury slows things down again with a modified surfboard. Nitro with an extremely goofy leg drop for a two count. Jeff takes a good bump to the floor, allowing Melina to work in a few cheap shots and flip off the crowd for chanting crack whore at her. Modified Decapitation Elbow from MNM for a near fall. Jeff with a sunset flip on Nitro, but a blind tag to Mercury renders the attempt pointless. Jeff sends Mercury to the floor, only for Mercury to pull Matt off the apron to prevent the tag. Jeff counters a second attempt at a slingshot to the corner, and comes off the top with the Whisper in the Wind on both members of MNM.
Matt with the other hot tag, and he cleans house. He takes Nitro down with a bulldog and lays out Mercury with the Side Effect. Another on Nitro gets two. Matt with the second rope leg drop for another two count. Hardyz try to set up an elaborate spot, only for Nitro to turn things around with a hurricanrana on Jeff. Mercury and Nitro end up crotched along turnbuckles on opposite ends of the ring, and get taken down with synchronized suplexes. Melina with another distraction, only to take a dropkick from Nitro. Jeff with a school boy, but it only gets two. Meanwhile, Mercury and Matt are brawling on the floor. Mercury and Nitro with the Snap Shot, but Matt interrupts the cover. They set Jeff up across the top rope for a Super-Snap Shot, but Matt breaks it up with a double Twist of Fate! Jeff with a Swanton Bomb to the MNM Sandwich, and the cover on Nitro finishes it at 22:23. When do you ever see a non-title undercard Tag Match get more than 20-minutes? ***1/2 Match had it's moments where it was losing me, but it kept evolving until we get a pretty hot ending sequence. It's definitely a formula not often used (especially at the time), and unfortunately the legacy of this PPV has erased this match from history. Oh, by the way, the Melina Scream Counter tallied in at 6.
- Sabu has been attacked backstage, and will not compete in tonight's Main Event. The live crowd chants "bullshit" in response. WWE could've edited that out of the DVD.
- Paul Heyman gives Sabu's spot in the EXTREME Elimination Chamber to the uncrowned World Champion of Wrestling... Hardcore Holly. I want the $2 back I spent on this DVD. The crowd's emotionless groan at the announcement is actually worth the price of admission.
Oh yeah, I forgot, there's a match to talk about. It's going to suck. I have all the confidence in the world to say that before the bell even rings. The crowd is DEAD, unless it's for the bouncing asses of Kelly and Ariel. Thorn and Knox go back and forth, but nobody cares. If only Thorn and Ariel were around two years later during the craze over that stupid Twilight crap. Knox with a vicious clothesline, but the crowd doesn't care. Eventually Knox says fuck it and tags out to Kelly Kelly, then ditches her, because it makes sense. How a heel does a mid-match heel turn is news to me. The crowd pops when Ariel changes the location of the apron where she's standing. Ariel pounds away on her for what feels like an eternity (much like the rest of this undercard of nothing) and finishes Kelly off with a powerslam at 7:41. Wow, that was ugly. -* The crowd didn't care, Thorn and Knox's sad attempt at working a match without trying to identify one or the other as someone the crowd can get behind, and then the VIXEN'S (yes, Vixens, not Diva's)... my eyes are still hurting. Sandman makes the post-match save by whipping Thorn around with his singapore cane. Sorry, too little, too late, and no Metallica entrance music just makes Sandman an uncool, out-of-shape drunk.
- Paul Heyman and his Security (the Basham Brothers who went unnamed and never unmasked) come out to talk, because we're only 90-minutes into the PPV, and the only thing left is the Main Event. Heyman doesn't even look like he wants to be out there. He knew the bullsh*t this PPV was, what it turned into, and how everyone would react to it.
CM Punk enters next, throwing the chair at Holly's face and coming off the top with a body press on RVD. The crowd is actually alive and excited! Punk tosses the chair to RVD, who responds by throwing it right into Punk's face. RVD with a monkey flip onto the chair (kind of). Punk ducks a spinning heel kick and leg drop's RVD's face across the chair. Springboard dropkick sends Holly to the outside. RVD is bleeding, possibly hardway, especially considering the location of the blood-flow. Punk sends him head-first into the chair resting between the turnbuckles, then goes for Holly again, only to be swung like a pendulum into the Chamber's fence! Holly puts the boots to Punk and plants him with a side suplex. Holly drops Punk across the top rope with a suplex and catches him with another boot to the face. The crowd sounds like they're chanting "Let's Go Word for Homosexuals that people shouldn't use" in Holly's direction. He sets Punk across the top rope and takes him down with a super-plex! RVD comes to life to go for the cover, but only gets two. Punk with the running knee to the face, but the bulldog is interrupted with a boot to the jaw from RVD.
Test enters next, and at this point, the crowd doesn't care who else enters. He whacks Punk with the crowbar, and claws at RVD's face with it. Punk hangs him up across the top rope while RVD lays Holly out with clotheslines. He's got the chair again, and smashes Test's hands with it. Pussy. RVD with a shot to Holly, followed by a basement dropkick to the face of Punk, using the chair for added punishment. RVD to the top, and the Five-Star Frog Splash finishes Punk at 12:24... What? PUNK IS GONE FIRST?!? Crowd hates that. Test lays out Holly with the running boot, but it gets two because Holly forgot to kick out... or not. Holly appears to be gone at 12:54, despite the blown-spot from the referee. RVD climbs to the top of Big Show's chamber, and gets trapped for being an idiot. Test whacks away at him with the chair and RVD takes a man-sized dive from the top of the pod. Test puts the chair over RVD's ace and climbs onto Big Show's pod. SUPER SIZED ELBOW DROP! RVD is dead at 14:00 to crowd disaproval. That means we've got Test to face Lashley and Big Show...
Let me say that again. In a match where CM Punk and RVD were the obvious choices to win, THEY'RE ELIMINATED BEFORE THE FIFTH ENTRANT IS RELEASED FROM HIS POD. The crowd is completely out of the match now that no one worth a damn remains, and we're guaranteed another 10-minutes. Loud "Where's Our Refund?" chant as nothing happens. Lashley is next, but Heyman's Basham's trap him in his Pod. Lashley, genius of the world, uses the table inside his pod to break through the roof! I'll give them credit, I didn't expect that to happen. He comes off the top with a clothesline, but the crowd still doesn't give a rats ass about the match anymore. He sends Test into the Pod on a WEAK Irish whip, and it's still enough to break the faux-glass. Then he does it again, but at least it looked like there was more momentum on it. Lashley boots the chair into Test's face, runs through him with clotheslines, and finishes with the Spear at 19:39. Big Show enters last, stuff happens, Lashley finishes for the ECW Championship at 24:42. Hurray for Lashley, thank God this crap is over. ** Match was actually really good, for about 10-minutes, then it went straight to hell and there was no coming back from that.
Final Thoughts: Where do you begin with this one? It might seem like it would be out of the question to accuse someone of sabotaging this show intentionally to kill the ECW name, but honestly, what other reasoning is there to back up with logical evidence?!
First, let's look at the Main Event. Your brand is ECW. You have Rob Vam Dam as a logical winner dictated by the storyline that ran since early July. You have CM Punk, a smark darling who the fans cared about, as a logical winner. Both men are eliminated in the first half of the match, leaving a field of broken down, unlikeable Big Show, uncharismatic Test, and generic hoss of the year, Bobby Lashley to fight over the title. According to rumors, Paul Heyman pushed hard for one of the logical choices, only to be shot down because Lashley needed a "career making moment", on a PPV that drew roughly 50,000 buys in North America. Big Show's involvement originally called for the first elimination, adding suspense to who would end up leaving as Champion, but someone veto'ed that and kept his broken down body in the Chamber until the end so he would be the final, decisive fall.
Second, let's look at the Undercard. The Hardyz vs. MNM stole the show (which isn't saying much when you think about it), but it's talent borrowed from the Raw and Smackdown brands. Of the exclusive ECW Roster matches, the four remaining undercard matches combined for a DUD. Yes, COMBINED. You add the four matches together and they can't break a star. Instead of putting people together from natural angles or matches that might draw, we got Daivari pinning Tommy Dreamer with a cheap roll up, Balls Mahoney honoring straight rules in a match that called for some drama, and the Sandman being used as a post-match run-in instead of in a Hardcore Rules Match against Thorn or Knox.
Long ago, back when I was watching WWECW on a regular basis, I actually put together a logical card that could've been made based on the rivalries at the time. Would it have helped the buyrate? No, probably not, but it would've been something. Some kind of effort to make it look like someone cared. There was no need for a Chamber Match, other than to strip down the rest of the card and try to plug it up with the left-overs from Velocity and Sunday Night Heat. You know how sometimes a show can be so bad, it's really entertaining? This isn't one of them. This show is so bad, it's depressing. Following the next episode of ECW on Sci-Fi, I gave up on the ECW brand, only checking in occasionally to see if anything interesting was happening while channel surfing. Even though I picked up this DVD, new, for about $2 and change, I still wouldn't recommend it for anyone's collection. It's a completely worthless show that comes as close as you can get to prove that someone tanked a PPV intentionally to screw over their employees and paying audience.